Give poor customer service, pay the price

These days, so many companies skimp on customer service, hiring teenage-bots who can’t make decisions in-store or outsourcing to a call centre that’s so disconnected from reality, there’s no hope of finding help there. And inevitably, it results in unhappy customers.

Back in the good ol’ days, I recall being told “Please a customer, they’ll tell at most 7 people. Anger a customer, and they’ll tell 21 people.” That was pre-blog. We all know that, with the cozy little designer soapboxes we call blogs, we can now amplify that message. Seven becomes a few dozen, and 21 becomes many thousands. I should know, I gave Red Letter Days its fair share of bad press a couple of years ago.

Jackie Huba of Church of the Customer recounts the events of the past few days where Terry Heaton buys a $269 digital camera to find out the box is empty once he gets home. CompUSA tried to play dumb with him, refusing to refund his money and saying he should’ve checked the box before going home, but Terry broadcasted his experience and, while he didn’t manage to get the attention of anyone with half a brain at CompUSA the day of his complaint, promptly got the attention of thousands of Diggers, BoingBoing readers and FoxNews readers.

Terry’s short but eventful past few days in more details here.

If you’re part of your company’s marketing team, and even if you aren’t, is YOUR company doing everything it can to keep customers happy? If not, make it your job to remind those in charge that without customers, there’s no business happening, so treat ’em well!

4 thoughts on “Give poor customer service, pay the price

  1. Nathan Pitzel

    Hey Vero… cool story, I hope you’re enjoying your adventure.

    I came across your blog @ and couldn’t help but relate.

    Currently I’m getting worked over pretty good by Lexus, it’s horribly frustrating.

    Anyway, I enjoyed your post about Customer Service. And, I’ve shared my blog address with you in hopes that it may… just may move you to share with your audience.

    Either way, take care and I’ll be following your posts.

    Best Regards,
    Nathan Pitzel

  2. Maggie

    I totally agree with you. I’m a marketing major. I also have a part time job at the mall selling women clothing( as close to a marketing as possible). I find the regular customers like come back specifically on my shift so they can buy from me. Of course, we have commission when we sell over a certain amount, which has not happen in months, but good customer service in my case does make a difference.

  3. Tyler Hughes

    I say we should handle customer complaints by telling the customer to get over it there are bigger problems in the world like U. S. Troops dying in Iraq everyday.

  4. Bernard Becker

    Active Tech

    3633 Boul. des Sources, Suite 208 
H9B 2K4 

    TEL: 1-866-685-5603

    Re: Not Honouring Prices as Marked.

    On Saturday September 11th, 2010 I visited your Active Electronics store at 3790 Victoria Park Avenue in Toronto to purchase an adapter for a project my son and I were working on.

    After a pleasant half hour we approached the cashier with almost $100.00 worth of merchandise, including a small jewelers loupe marked at approximately $4.50.

    The cashier, a Russian sounding fellow informed me the price of the item was actually over $8.50, and they wouldn’t sell it at the price marked on the item.

    He called over a supervisor, who also informed me the price was wrong, and that they wouldn’t honour the price as marked.

    I pointed out that ALL of the identical items on the shelf were marked with that price. They insisted there was nothing they would do about honouring the sticker price.

    This of course if the primary mechanism that cashiers use to defraud customers. Tell the customer the price is wrong, ask for a higher price, and pocket the difference.

    They would not show me the price in the computer, and they would not honour the sticker price.

    At that point I proceeded to return all of the other items I had picked up, and placed approximately $80 to $90 of merchandise to the side which I indicated I would not purchase if the price on the sticker wasn’t honoured.

    They would not budge. Even at a conservative 10% profit margin, the items I elected not to have purchased profit margin far outweighed the approximately $4 difference between the price marked and the price they claimed was in the computer for the jeweler’s loupe

    The supervisor refused to provide his full name, and insisted he was “Shawn” and would not give a last name. He said his manager was “Brett” but again refused to provide a last name.

    Clearly your staff would rather sell me $7.78 worth of merchandise and forgo the revenue of the nearly $100 worth of equipment I was going to buy, and take the time to restock the shelves with all of the purchases I elected not to proceed with due to the shabby treatment I received.

    I will be making a special effort to relate this poor treatment I received at your store to as many of my peers and colleagues as possible. I will be posting it to facebook, to my blog and to as many Internet sites as I can find as well as the old fashioned bulletin board at work.

    Clearly your staff would rather:

    1. Not honour prices as marked contrary to the Canadian Scanner Price Code of Conduct.

    2. Invent new prices and attempt to charge customers higher amounts without showing them what is in the computer.

    3. Infuriate customers who insist that prices be honoured as marked.

    4. Forgo the revenue and profits on nearly a hundred dollars and elect instead to sell $7.78 worth of merchandise.

    5. Take the time and effort to restock shelves with merchandise that could have been sold.

    6. Harm the reputation of the firm with a direct customer, and spoil the goodwill with all the indirect individuals that customer tells about the experience.

    Tell Shawn, “Good Job Buddy, You saved us $4. Way to go.”

    cc: Diane J. Brisebois, President & CEO, Retail Council of Canada.
    cc: Better Business Bureau, Mid Western and Central Ontario

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